After a long journey dealing with the COVID lockdowns and a badly broken shoulder, local mural artist Katie Trainer had her first exhibition in five years. 

Each month, the Lebanon Valley Council of the Arts hosts a new exhibit in their Gallery 770 space, which is unveiled on the First Friday of that month. Trainer’s show, titled “An Exploration of Life and Timelessness: a Rendezvous of Visual, Literary, and Auditory Stimulation,” was the LVCA’s October exhibit. 

Katie Trainer plays guitar and sings at the First Friday opening of her exhibition. The Lebanon Valley Council of the Arts hosts an event on the first Friday of every month to unveil the exhibit of that month. (Thyme Steele)

“The theme [was] a dive into the timelessness of life and exploration,” said Trainer.

Trainer often uses her art to connect with her community, and this exhibition was no different. During the final week her work was on display, Trainer hosted discussions about topics ranging from gardening and permaculture to public art. 

“I [tried] to draw in different crowds for the last week my show [was] there,” said Trainer. “The talks went really well and there were many many more people than I expected.”

A large part of the show consisted of artworks that Trainer originally made up to 10 years ago but added new imagery and other elements to make them into something new. In the future, she hopes to create more art using old paint palettes from her murals and other projects and possibly do a whole exhibition with that kind of work.

Katie Trainer likes to include unconventional captions on the labels for her artwork to add context to the piece. (Thyme Steele)

“I really like to work with layers and build it up so that there’s a whole story behind it,” said Trainer. “It turns it into something new.”

Trainer uses a lot of different media in her art, but she particularly enjoys using acrylics, often adding glue or latex to add texture to her work. She uses that texture as a starting point to see if it lends itself to any particular image.

“I like to just play around with stuff and see what happens,” said Trainer. 

Trainer also had a series of art she made when she broke her shoulder in 2020 on display. Since she could only use her non-dominant hand, these particular pieces are more abstract and tend to use layers of spray paint broken up by leaves and other found items to create more depth.

Read More: Katie Trainer bounces back

Breaking her shoulder was a painful and frustrating experience for Trainer. During the long healing process, she turned to art and gaming to cope. Even now, she continues to channel her struggles into her work.

These pieces were auctioned off to fundraise for a new 9/11 memorial courtyard in Hershey. The largest one was signed by Bret Michaels and raised $2,500 at auction. (Thyme Steele)

“[When] I get frustrated and my shoulder hurts, I just channel myself and work through it,” said Trainer. “If anything, it’s produced a lot of strength at this point.”

Trainer has also been promoting “What Are the Chances?”, a book she wrote about her travels and life experiences. When she published it in late 2019, she was only able to do a few book signings before COVID and her shoulder injury put that on hold.

“It’s about traveling, inspirational emotions, getting in tune with yourself, and connecting the dots with what I call the ‘life poem,’” said Trainer.

This exhibition demonstrated to Trainer how far she has come since her injury and has brought her closer to where she was before it happened.

“I’m almost back to where I was [before I broke my shoulder], and once that happens, then I’ll feel more available to give again,” said Trainer. “I used to just give all the time and then that happened, and I’d like to get back to being able to do it again.”

While she has come so far, she still wants to go further and continue to make art and serve her community.

“I’m very motivated and sincerely dedicated to getting out of this,” said Trainer. “I don’t know what it is [yet], but I feel the calling to do some things. Something’s going to happen.”

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